Better With Popcorn

Flyers face huge problem with Rangers

With only moments remaining in Sunday afternoon’s meeting between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the fans at Madison Square Garden rose to their feet.

With it plainly evident that the Rangers were going to win the game, the fans began to shower their hometown team with cheers.

They also made an astute assessment that has summarized the relationship between the two bitter rivals.

“You can’t beat us,” the crowd cheered as the game concluded.

And to this point it’s 100% accurate.

Following Sunday’s 5-2 win, the Rangers have now defeated the Flyers in six consecutive meetings dating back to March of last year.

Of the 12 possible points awarded in those games, the Flyers have walked away with a grand total of one, while the Rangers have come away with all 12.

Over that span, the Rangers have outscored the Flyers 23-8 and have held them to two goals or less in every game.

It has been clear that the Rangers defense has done a fantastic job of neutralizing the Flyers potent offense.

Considering that Philadelphia is the second highest scoring team in the entire NHL and can feasibly score goals at will, it’s amazing that the Rangers have consistently kept them under control.

Of course, it needs to be mentioned that the Rangers are probably the best defensive team in the league. At the very least they need to be mentioned in the same breath as the Boston Bruins.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Rangers had allowed the fewest goals of any team in the NHL (102 goals against).

A lot of that can be credited to New York’s goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist who is arguably the best in the game right now. Leading the league in save percentage (.939%), shutouts (six) and second in goals against average (1.82), Lundqvist has been the prototypical ‘brick wall’ goaltender against the Flyers.

He plays big, he plays fast and he stops a lot of shots.

However, he isn’t the only one stifling the Flyers.

The Rangers d-corps has been downright dominating. Playing just as big and as fast as their goaltender, the group isn’t afraid to throw the body in every sense of the word.

The team forced the Flyers to the outside of the zone and threw checks every time they had a chance. By doing so, the Flyers had a hard time getting inside, which forced them to attempt shots from the perimeter leaving Lundqvist plenty of time to make saves.

But the Rangers also threw the body in another way.

The team blocked an astonishing 25 shots on Sunday (in comparison, the Flyers only blocked 10).

Ultimately, Sunday was a difficult day for the Flyers. Not only did the Rangers beat them, but they also won the season series with two games to go.

New York continues to pull ahead in the Atlantic Division and now has possession of the tiebreaker if the two teams do manage to end the season deadlocked.

This isn’t the same old Rangers team that has underachieved over the past few seasons. Now, they have a potent offense to go along with their dominating defense and have a mean streak that they have lacked for some time.

Most importantly, they now have confidence that they can beat the Flyers.

With two games remaining against the Eastern Conference leaders, the Flyers need to pick up the physical play, attack the net more aggressively and most importantly need to cut down on soft shots finding the back of their own net.

In the short term, the Flyers still have a chance to set the tone for a possible matchup in May.

But on a larger scale, it begins the question asking period.

Are the Flyers capable of beating the Rangers when it really matters most?

To this point, they haven’t proven it.


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